Sunday, December 23, 2012

2012 in Review

Sitting around in full recovery mode has given me ample time to start thinking what the last year has meant to me and what the next year may hold in store for me. This post is about looking back over the goals I set for myself for this past year.

1. Complete the Disney Goofy Challenge in a manner that follows through with my goal for having a fun time during the event rather than having a speed goal for the event.

My athletic season began with an early start in Disney World with the completion of the Goofy Challenge. I not only set new PR times at both the half and full marathon distance, I also had a ton of fun running the races for enjoyment more than for time. I even took a few minutes to run off course and ride the Expedition Everest roller coaster during the marathon. I doubt I'll ever be able to top that one for a diversion during a race.

2. Complete my longest run event in February, the Rocky Raccoon 50 miler.
I completed my longest running event in in Huntsville, Texas, with the completion of this race. I ran virtually every step of this race with my friend Karen, an experienced ultra-distance runner who helped me in my preparation for this event. Next year I get to return the favor as Karen is going for her first Ironman triathlon finish.

3. Set new PR's in at least 6 different events/race distances. My intended races include 5K, 10K, half marathon, marathon, 50 mile, multiple sprint triathlon distances, half Ironman (70.3) and Ironman distances. If I had to pick one goal for my primary time-based goal this year, it would be to finish the 70.3 mile half iron distance in under 6 hours. That would be an improvement of over 21 minutes from last November's Oilman Triathlon time.
For the 12 races I did this year, each was either a PR or a first time effort--for the sake of this write-up, I will not count first time efforts as PR's. In my running events I did set PR's at the 5K (Trail), 10 mile, half marathon and marathon distances. In my triathlons, I set PR's at the half and full Ironman distances, as well as new course PR's at the Y Freedom Tri and Bridgeland Triathlon. As far as my most preferred goal, I did beat 6 hours at the half Ironman distance at the Ironman Texas 70.3 in Galveston on April 1st, with a time of 5:52:05. This also marked a course improvement of just over two hours in two years.

4. Work on improving my weaknesses. When I look back at my relative position finishes in triathlons, my weakest finish relative to the competition is typically the run. Therefore, I am going to include some effort to improve my running throughout the year. Some of my other training weaknesses that I also plan to spend more time improving are strength and flexibility training.
I did work on all of these, though especially on becoming a stronger runner. While I had seen the benefits of this improvement in my early year running events, I found it to be a noticeable part of my triathlon improvement later in the year. In late June I narrowly missed my first podium finish with a fourth place age group finish in the Y Freedom Tri. This really changed my perspective in terms of thinking that I really could become competitive in these events in the future. This led to three straight podium finishes at race effort events in the next few months, which is something I didn't see coming. A number of my friends said they weren't surprised but I certainly was. 

5. Participate in at least 10 events throughout the year, with at least 4 being running events and at least 4 being triathlon events.
Even with my late season injury and missing my late season half iron and 5K races, I still completed 12 events for 2012.

6. Keep my life open to other possibilities that might add to my overall well-being. 
I can think of three main things that I can list for this item. First, becoming involved as a member of the leadership team for a mentoring group that works to bring junior high aged youth to work towards completing a 5K event and working towards a healthier lifestyle. Second, accepting the restrictions that my late season injury has placed upon my life for the recovery period and seeing if there is some lesson I can take forward beyond the recovery period. Third, I took a on a sponsorship opportunity with CLIF Bar and it came through and it presented me with some unique opportunities. Fourth, I've had to learn to adjust my mental positioning of myself during this year--I've been running away from my past for a long time and I think I've finally learned to run towards my future instead.

Despite my recent health and recovery issues, it is hard to consider 2012 as anything less than a big success. I PR'ed every race I ran, including the biggest PR of any athlete who raced Ironman Texas for both years of the race. I got onto the podium this year, and not just that but won my age group in three races. I had a sponsorship deal. I also qualified for the USAT Age Group Nationals next year. Many of these were something I certainly never even thought of as possible. This was definitely a great year for me in so many ways!

Although it will still take me a while to continue my recovery, I have every hope that I will still be able to move forward in 2013, and I will discuss my goals for the next year in a later post. My healing is moving forward slower than I'd like but faster than the medical professionals thought likely. It will certainly take me some time to be back to where I'd like to be, though I am already beginning to resume some of my training in swim, bike (indoor only at this point) and run activities. Ironman Texas 2013 is staying on my schedule for next year, at least at this point.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Easing into Things, Plus a Big Surprise

So...seeing as how I've been cleared to ease back into EASY training, I have done a few very simple test workouts over the last 5 days. (I use the term workout very liberally here.)

First, I spent nearly a half hour on an indoor bike on easy resistance. No problems.
Next, I ran 1.75 miles. This was tougher on me and my quads were sore for a few days afterward.
Today, I tried a simple breast stroke to see if my arm mobility would support it now. I managed about 100 slow yards before I deciding it was time to stop while I was ahead.
During these days I have also been mixing in the exercises my physical therapist has given me to do.

So far, so good with all of the above.

Today held one of the biggest surprises for me for an end to my competitive year. I received the following via email earlier today.

Congratulations Richard Tramm. You have qualified for the Olympic-Distance race at the 2013 USA Triathlon Age Group National Championships on August 10 in Milwaukee, Wis., after finishing in the top 10 percent in your age group at the 2012 Clear Lake International Triathlon.

All I can say is, WOW! What a way to end my year!

Sunday, December 9, 2012


It was just over eight weeks ago that I wrote in an email to a friend about how every time I got to swim, bike or run was like a wondrous celebration of life. Since I had spent most of my adult life overweight, often very much overweight, the fact that I had finally conquered the demons of weight loss, fitness and health improvement was far more important to me than anything else I had accomplished. Little did I know that a week later my life was about to change significantly when it came to health, fitness and training.

Since then my life has been more about dealing with pain and injury (and surgery) recovery. I've been able to return to work with most of a full schedule this past week, having worked from home and slowly increased office time the last three weeks. I expect that I will continue to become increasingly effective at work over the next few weeks as well. I also start physical therapy this week. While I don't entirely look forward to that, I do look forward to the health benefits it should ultimately provide me.

I had my follow up appointment with my surgeon this past week. X-rays show my bones are healing and I have been cleared to return to some activities as long as they are not painful or harmful to me. My surgeon said he was very happy with my progress and told me that I was ahead of his expectations. I go back to see him in mid-January and hope that could be the gateway to return to more serious training.

This weekend also marks the start of what I hope is my return to fitness and will also ultimately lead to a return to running and triathlon events. Yesterday I spent a little under a half hour on an indoor bike at the gym. It was at low resistance and easy to moderate intensity, but it went well with no pain. Today I ran 1.75 miles with some stiffness, but no unexpected pain there either. I can tell that I have lost a lot of fitness in the last 50 days, and I also know I cant push myself too hard when my body is busy working on healing itself.

I've taken my first steps back, so let's see if I can build from here.
I promise I will keep it slow.